When trying to decide where to go before this trip I was reminded that the PCT goes through the Trinity Alps, and I'll admit I don't have the fondest memories of this area or any memories of the Alps specifically. Vague recollections of hot and bugs and not so much water are all that remain. I guess there were mountains but its all a blur. I chose the other side of the wilderness, focusing on the SE, with hopes of a loop in the 4 lakes area and the Stoney ridge trail.
I knew I wanted to get some current conditions or at least a map (thank you online trail conditions report). I found out that permits are required in the Shasta Trinity Forest and the Trinity Alps Wilderness but the Ranger Station closes at 4:30 in spring, so good thing permits are self serve. Leaving Reno at 1 pm meant that was impossible to make so I was crossing my fingers on making it to the local outdoor shop in Weaverville by 6 pm in time to buy a map.
The drive wound us up past Susanville into Lassen and past the Hat Creek Rim and through Old Station, big time PCT memories for sure. Then towards Redding and finally Weaverville. Road construction had me cursing as we spent 30 minutes almost at a standstill and eventually rolled into Weaverville at 6:01. Luckily enough the store stayed open and armed with a map and after a quick stop at the ranger station, our self serve permits were filled out and we headed towards the Stoney Ridge Trail. Leaving Highway 3 we spent 6 miles on a winding dirt forest service road until at 7 pm we finally made it. 3 other cars sat in the parking lot and as we ate dinner we debated if we would see them on this hike. Then out popped a hiker from the trail, he was friendly but rather grumpy regarding trail use, he kept asking if we had heard about this trail on some blog because it was never this crowded. I laughed when he described 3 cars as the fourth of July weekend crowd, I'll admit I was hoping for solitude but 3 people is pretty small compared with the nonsense of places like Yosemite and Desolation Wilderness. Although I now feel slightly guilty for writing about this place...
We enjoyed sunset and rolled out our sleeping bags hoping for an early morning. With predicted highs in the mid-nineties and a day starting with 4.5 miles of climbing I wanted a cool morning start.
Morning came eventually after a long balmy night and I was itching to get started. 4.5 miles of switch-backing up through forest brought us around 3000 feet in elevation gain and to the top of Stoney Wall Pass. Looking over the pass was eye opening, it had been a pretty and well graded climb up but peeking over real mountains and snow spread out in front of me. Now this was more of what I had been hoping for. The guy in the parking lot had warned us about the climb, saying it weeded out the undetermined. Honestly I liked the climb, it was the snowy pass I was staring at that made me truly nervous.
|first glimpse of the Trinities|
|Looking down at Van Metre Meadow (maybe?)|
|glorious dirt trail, taking us up to Little Stonewall Pass|
|looking back, the pass is the first notch on the left|
|looking down from Little Stonewall Pass|
|the second pass was a fun boot ski down|
Another short climb brought us to Deer Creek Pass and our first sights of Deer Lake and the Four Lake Loop trail.
|eyeing the trail up to Summit Lake, the photo does no justice to how steep the slope looked|
|looking out Deer Creek Canyon|